Written by Charles Gossett, Jr.
February 18, 2018
We have been hearing a lot in the news recently about bullying at school. However, one topic I have never heard addressed is bullying that goes on behind the scenes at churches. Before you say, “This doesn’t happen in my church,” step outside of your Sunday school classroom Sunday, crack the door to the children’s department, and listen to what some of the children say to someone who in their opinion does not fit in with what they think they should be. What about on a church retreat when students deprive someone of sleep? Or when they do something to make that person cry?
Why am I writing this blog? Because I know personally how bullying can affect students bullied at church. My brother and I were victims of bullies from our church. For eight years I was spat upon and told I belonged in a home for the retarded or in a mental institution. Furthermore, my peer group at church would not sit with me during church.
How did I survive? I survived the bullying by using my fist and giving those people a bloody nose. After a few years, I was left alone. The bullying stopped after my mother saw someone had broken my glasses. She told my father who talked to the bully’s father. I also told my father at that time the names of the other students bullying me. The bullying stopped. A few months later I received an apology.
My brother’s peers started leaving me alone and started bullying him Sunday mornings. When our father saw my brother put a pocket knife in his sports coat pocket, Dad asked him why he did that. My brother told him, “I’m going to kill someone today at church if they don’t stop bullying me.”
“Stay home, Son,” Dad said. “You don’t need to put up with all that stuff.”
When my mother called my brother’s Sunday school teacher about what had happened and to let the teacher know my brother wouldn’t be coming back, the teacher said, “I wish I had known this had been going on.”
You have not lived until you come out of the church youth group on Sunday night before the service and have your brother’s peers come up to you and ask, “Why doesn’t your brother come to church?”
You reply, “Because you ran him off.” They never did get it or accept responsibility for their actions.
I have forgiven those persons who bullied me a long time ago. I have no bitterness towards any of them.
I am writing this blog for myself, and to encourage those of you who attend church, to be aware of your surroundings. If you see children, or anyone for that matter, bullying at church, don’t be afraid to intervene to stop the bullying, even if you have to get someone on the church staff involved.